Monday, March 28, 2011

The 'New' Theatre at Ridgeway Street

The opening of the new Lyric Theatre in Belfast is just weeks away, built on the site of the demolished old theatre on Ridgeway Street. With that in mind, here is a slideshow of images of the old theatre when it was freshly constructed in 1968, and a couple of photographs of its construction.

Sarah Poutch

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

'Big Jack' makes an appearance at the Galway Arts Festival!

One of the more interesting/unusual pieces I have come across so far in the Galway Arts Festival archive is this wonderful press cutting  (City Tribune) of an image of a sculpture of none other than Jack Charlton.  Made from discarded oil drums by Galway city motor mechanics Gay and Patsy Farrell was placed outside the Kenny Art Gallery in Middle Abbey Street during the Heroes and Heroines exhibition in conjunction with the 1994 Galway Arts Festival. Ireland was in the grip of World Cup fever as well as Arts Festival fever at this time so it is no wonder ‘Big Jack’ made an appearance on the streets of Galway that summer! 
'Big Jack'

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Thomas Kilroy Collection - listing underway!

Thomas Kilroy in 1968, promoting the Dublin Theatre Festival
We can now formally announce the name and nature of the fifth theatre archives collection currently being listed at NUIG - namely the archives of novelist, playwright and academic Thomas Kilroy. It has been officially deposited in the James Hardiman Library just today, and to mark the occasion, a public interview was held here on campus: the Irish Times reported on this last Saturday. The collection contains 41 banker's boxes of papers, a few photographs, and some audiovisual material, and I have been chipping away at this rather quietly since the last summer. It means that as I blog, I usually fall back on material I saw a few months back, but hope that won't take the freshness out of it for yourselves – as far as archives can ever be "fresh"! 

Donal McCann in Tea and Sex and Shakespeare
(The Abbey Theatre, 1978)
The bulk of the archives is made up of drafts of Kilroy's novel (The Big Chapel, 1971), drafts of his plays for the stage (of which 16 have been produced to date), and drafts of his work for television and radio. Besides that, there is some illuminating (if not luminous) correspondence with agents, actors, and fellow writers: naming just a few, there are Seamus Deane, Seamus Heaney, Mary Lavin, John McGahern, Desmond O'Grady, Frank McGuinness... The rest of the archives is made up of things from Kilroy's work for the Field Day Theatre Company, for the Abbey Theatre, as well as other material from the academic side of his life. If that sounds interesting, please stay tuned.
Vera Orschel

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mary O’Malley

With a range of activities including establishing and running a theatre, directing plays, editing a literary magazine, serving as a city councillor and raising a family, Mary O’Malley was a formidable woman. In her autobiography Never Shake Hands with the Devil she writes of how she often had to rely on au pairs and other household help to manage all of the demands on her day. It’s still astonishing that she could  fit all of this work into her time.
In this she was undoubtedly aided by her husband Pearse. Despite his position as a consultant in Belfast’s Mater Hospital, and his private surgery hours, he played a huge role in the administration of the Lyric, serving on the Board of Trustees until the 1990s. Another interest of Dr O’Malley’s was the Clan O’Malley, an organisation uniting descendants of the clan and of their most famous ancestor, Granuaile (Grace O’Malley). He played an instrumental part in establishing the Granuaile Trust, which sought to facilitate genealogy research and to build a heritage centre in Westport, county Mayo.

With such busy lives, it’s perhaps no wonder that Mary O’Malley found she had to be firm with those around her; this list of rules for her actors was found written on the reverse of a playbill!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

On St Patrick’s Day it seems appropriate to post an image from the Lyric Theatre archive to celebrate our national holiday. This is a programme for a series of events created by Mary O’Malley for St Patrick’s Day 1959. If you click through to the larger image you can see that the events included a dramatisation of The Children of Lir and excerpts from Valentin Iremonger’s play Wrap Up My Green Jacket. An attempt to cater to both sides of the community in Belfast is seen with the inclusion of a recital of ‘Orange Ballads’ as part of the programme.

Best wishes to all of our readers today!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Siobhan McKenna in UCD Drama Society

This press cutting, from The Irish Press dated 27th February 1945 highlighted a little known facet of Siobhan McKenna's acting career. It is one of her first notices from a Dublin newspaper following her move from Galway where she had been an actress in An Taibhdhearc during her time as a student in UCG - with this notice giving a pen-picture of the actress at the start of her career which was to last for over forty years.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mary O’Malley’s Personal Yeats Script

As discussed before on this blog, Mary O’Malley was an enthusiastic supporter of the dramas written by W.B. Yeats. Indeed the Lyric from its earliest days staged these challenging productions, and when the Lyric became a professional organisation its allegiance to Yeats was expressly conveyed in its constitution. These plays were primarily directed by Mary O’Malley herself, and this item from the archive at NUI Galway has recently come up for cataloguing. Originally just a hardcover compilation of all of Yeats’ plays, O’Malley made this her own personal working script for Yeats productions. The script is peppered with O’Malley’s notes on stage direction, instructions for the actors, and other such valuable material for researchers.

Annotated scripts make many appearances in the Lyric Theatre archives. The cataloguing project is ongoing, but by the end of this year the completed descriptive list will be available on our website. This will help researchers identify material they would like to consult before visiting the archives, and will ensure that they get the maximum benefit possible from using the NUI Galway archives.

Incidentally, a full list of all of our collections can be seen here, with some already having their catalogues available to read online.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Help Needed!

Today's blog is a request for assistance in identifying a play for which we have a props list in the Lyric Theatre archives, but no other information! Besides the photos here is the information we can offer:
  • Three act play
  • Character names: Conlon, Maguire, Lynch, Tressa and Bridie
  • Locations: threshing mill, hall and store (pub)
Click on the photographs for a larger view of each act's props. If anyone can identify this play we would love to hear from you, via email, a comment here on the blog or via Twitter. Thanks!

UPDATE: Many thanks to NUI Galway English lecturer Patrick Lonergan, who quickly identified this play as Eugene McCabe's King of the Castle, which the Lyric produced in 1966 and again in 1971. With the number of props involved I believe this list is from the 1971 production, as the Lyric had moved to its new and much larger home on Ridgeway Street by that time. 

Sarah Poutch

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Galway Arts Festival Archive - Cataloguing Underway!

Having spent a fantastic last few months working on cataloguing the Druid Theatre Company Archive (stay tuned for updates on electronic version of the finding aid) the next project to be undertaken here at NUI Galway Archives will be the cataloguing of the Galway Arts Festival archive.
Established in 1978, the Galway Arts Festival has firmly placed itself as a major arts and cultural festival on the international as well as national calendar. Attracting over 100,000 visitors to the West of Ireland annually, the Galway Arts Festival is a spectacle of performance, music, literature, theatre, art and comedy. The archive of the Galway Arts Festival reflects over thirty years of the legacy and achievement of those who supported the festival, participated in it and who travelled from far and wide to attend the festival.
The archive boasts hundreds of high quality colour and black and white photographs, a huge array of posters, administrative material such as Board of Directors’ minutes, an expansive press archive documenting public and critical response to the festival every year. The archive even contains a number of T-shirts (size L/XL!) from the Galway Arts Festival in recent years. Cataloguing those items will be a new experience!
Over the coming months you can follow the project of cataloguing the Galway Arts Festival, be updated of interesting articles, items and stories that have perhaps being forgotten over the years. It promises to be a great project bringing to life over thirty years of amazing festival records and memories. You can also follow NUI Galway Archives on Twitter @nuigalwayarchives.

Galway Arts Festival

Monday, March 7, 2011

Lyric Production Photographs: 1970s

The last in the series of production photographs, today's slideshow contains images of productions from the early 1970s. Although the archive contains material from productions from 1950 until 1994, from this time on there are less photographs and slides and more audio recordings of plays. This is the case until the 1980s material, most of which consists of programmes and posters. As this is the O'Malley family archive, the material included reflects the gradual distancing of Mary and Pearse O'Malley from the day to day running of the theatre.